Friday, June 5, 2009


If you can identify your most common triggers, you may be able to cut off headaches before they start. The best way to accomplish this is through a headache diary. Keep a daily log of foods you eat, stressful events, weather changes, and physical activity. Whenever you have a headache, record the time it starts and stops. This will help you find patterns, so you can try to avoid your personal triggers.

Manage Stress
Many people are able to manage migraines or tension headaches through stress-busting strategies. Although you can't control the stressful events that come your way, you can alter your response to those events. You may need to experiment with techniques such as meditation, massage, and acupuncture to find what works for you.

Exercise Regularly
Moderate exercise is a powerful stress reliever. Walking is a great choice because it delivers an extra defense against tension headaches. When you walk, the swinging motion of your arms tends to relax the muscles in your neck and shoulders. Breaking up those knots diminishes the very root of tension headaches.

Do not Skip Meals
Eating balanced meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar on an even level, this means no more hunger headaches. Aim for meals and snacks that pair a protein with a complex carbohydrate, such as peanut butter on whole-grain bread .Be sure to drink enough water, dehydration is another common headache trigger.

Physical Therapy
Physical therapy combines exercise and education to reduce pain and improve range of motion. In people with tension headaches, physical therapy can help strengthen the neck muscles and establish new habits that lead to better posture.

Aspirins are effective against many types of headaches. But avoid taking these drugs continuously, as this can result in medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches -- headache pain that returns as soon as the analgesic pills have worn off. For frequent headaches, especially migraines, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that help prevent them.

When to See a Doctor
Any new headache that is unusually severe or lasts more than a couple of days should be checked by a doctor. It's also important to let your doctor know if the pattern of your headaches changes -- for example, if there are new triggers. If you have a headache accompanied by paralysis, confusion, fever, or stiff neck, seek emergency medical care.

J.W.Marks MD

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